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Thinkin of making major changes in my life! Would like your input
Jul 15, 2005

Dr. Bob,

You have already given me so much guidance and I don't want to take advantage of your giving spirit but I would like your input on a descision that I am making. I have been battling HIV/AIDS for a mere year and a half and I have come to the point where I am done with doing what everyone "expects" me to do. This expectation is that I continue in what used to be a rewarding job that I loved. Since disclosing my status to my imediate superiors and having to miss quite a bit of work. I have run into a supervisor that wants me out! She has never been a kind person and until recently I have been able to slop enough sugar on her to keep her at bay. I have FMLA which protects my job but my work environment is hostile and is beginning to affect not only my mental health but my physical health as well. I have always had the dream of changing careers and going into real estate. (something I know I could kick but in) I know I can do cobra coverage for 18 months while I establish myself but I am not clear on HIPPA coverage after the cobra has run out. Am I being stupid in making a change when things seem so up in the air health-wise or should I follow the dream and make the best of whatever time I have left? I am tired of being trapped and treated like a second class citizen. Another person in my department has cancer and is treated as a saint even though she has missed more work than I. I want to take control of my destiny and make major changes I just need an outside party to tell me I am nuts or that I should go for it. You have been the only person that I have found thus far is this journey that speeks in a positive manner and I value your opinion greatly.

Thank you!!!! JME

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello JME,

OPTION #1

You stated you have "what used to be a rewarding job that I loved." However, since disclosing your status, a supervisor wants you out and your work environment has become hostile, which is beginning to affect your mental and physical health. It doesn't sound like you have a job problem but rather a discrimination and supervisor problem! Here's what I would suggest. Document on paper all your complaints and their consequences on your health. Give a copy of this report to your HIV specialist and have him or her comment on this in the chart notes. I would then contact your local AIDS legal services. (Check with your local AIDS service organizations or ask your HIV specialist for a referral.) Depending on the strength of your claim and support of your physician, a complaint can then be filed at your place of employment. Your HIV specialist also can put limits on your work schedule or even take you off work for a period of time (i.e. short-term disability). Supervisors who discriminate for health reasons usually don't last very long, especially if a lawyer or legal service gets involved. The key is to make sure your HIV specialist knows what's going on and supports your claims.

OPTION #2

If your current job really is no longer satisfying (aside from the scumbag supervisor), a career change is always an option. I would see a benefits counselor before making any decisions. They will explain all the details regarding Cobra and other insurance-coverage options. Make sure you understand all the ramifications of making a major switch, if it's going to negatively impact your health care or ability to get insurance in the future.

I always recommend following one's dreams. I just urge you to do so wisely. I also do not advise you to change your true dreams as a consequence of a shitty supervisor.

So to sum up, fight or switch. Both are legitimate options. In fact, you could even do both!

Good luck!

Dr .Bob


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